The trials and tribulations of graduate recruitment

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Issues of scale are one of the major problems facing Kiwi employers when it comes to graduate recruitment, according to several experts at the New Zealand Association of Graduate Employment (NZAGE) summit this week.

Both Deloitte’s national talent acquisition manger Paul Smith and HR Australasia – FNZ head Richard Westney, named issues of scale as one of the major problems facing New Zealand employers. Many organisations here are not big enough to dedicate one person to graduate recruitment, Smith said. And when graduate recruitment takes place, new employees aren’t trained as leaders, Westney added. “It’s a whole different skill set, a whole different development programme,” he said.

Another challenge discussed was the fact that so many young New Zealanders choose to leave the country. These circumstances have led to intense competition in the New Zealand market.

“The biggest issue on everyone’s mind was the competition for graduate talent: there’s more and more grads on the market but the quality is not increasing in line with the numbers, so everyone’s chasing the same group of grads,” Westney explained. It was important for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors through their culture or opportunities to meet this challenge, Smith said.

Both delegates also emphasised the importance of engaging students early.  “Those that are doing graduate recruitment really well in this country are the ones that are finding the touchpoints with students much earlier on, they’ve already built a relationship with them, the students understand their brand,” Westney said. Social media is useful in terms of allowing employers to contact students directly, and using a variety of means, he added

More generally, Westney cited the need for more creative approaches in attracting and developing graduates. “They’re recruited as cheaper labour, and people don’t think about how to develop them properly.”

“It’s up to New Zealand employers to step their game up,” Smith said.

The summit’s “Student Panel” also threw up some interesting tips for graduate recruiters. It emerged that learning and development opportunities were essential to these Generation Y employees. Opportunities for promotion, opportunities for cross-functional experience, and having a mentor were also considered important.

Attracting graduates in New Zealand:

  • Generation Y is looking for learning and development opportunities, career progression, cross-functional experience, and mentoring.
  • To beat out the competition, differentiate your company based on its culture and the opportunities it offers.
  • Engage students early, and develop a relationship with them.
  • Use a variety of social media to contact graduates directly, and bypass career services on campus.
  • Get creative, and think about how to develop graduates.

Related story: Personal fulfillment comes 1st for Gen Y workers

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